COVID-19 Update from Maria

Dear friends,

The spread of COVID-19 has turned our world upside down. But the need for language access in healthcare is critical right now, and soon the need for workforce development may be more dire than we’ve ever seen it, and so the show must go on. Below are some updates on how we’ve adapted, what’s ahead, and ways you can get involved.

Safety first

We’ve prioritized safety, and our whole team has been working remotely since the second week of March. I couldn’t be more proud of our staff, who’ve demonstrated so much creativity, flexibility and dedication in making quick adaptations!

Online staff meetings

Different times, different programming

We’ve moved all programming to Zoom, and introduced weekly virtual social gatherings to maintain a sense of connection and community. We’ve also reassessed our programmatic priorities, focusing our efforts on identifying and responding to the immediate needs of our interpreters, addressing food security, loss of housing and employment, and helping alumnae navigate the shifting landscape of federal, state, and local relief programs.

Online alumnae programming

Some of our projects are on hold, and we have sped up others – including rapidly rolling out remote interpreter services and translation services. In doing so, we aim to create desperately-needed new employment opportunities for our grads, and to play our part in the community response to COVID-19, making sure limited English speakers have access to public health information. 

✔️ How you can help:
Support language justice by booking interpreting or translation services with Found in Translation.

Financial uncertainty

Like many nonprofit organizations, we are facing financial uncertainty. The disruption in revenue (e.g. derailment of in-person fundraising plans, cancellations of interpreting assignments) combined with unanticipated expenses (e.g. technological upgrades to enable us to function remotely) are a shock to the system. We have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, and are on the lookout for new funding opportunities, but bracing for a bumpy ride ahead.

✔️ How you can help:
If you are in a position to do so, please consider supporting us with a donation to help us weather the storm.

Amid pandemic, our work takes on new importance

News articles paint a heartbreaking picture of the plight of LEP patients dying confused and alone. Immigrant communities are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, facing:

  • Increased exposure (many work in service jobs and do not have the luxury of working remotely).
  • Long-standing, entrenched disparities in access to health care and information, which are exacerbated by the pandemic.
  • Increased vulnerability to dangerous misinformation as a result to language barriers.
  • Secondary harms such as isolation, alienation, and hate crimes. 

Professional medical interpreters are vital to flattening the curve via access to correct information and life-saving care, and supporting and language access is absolutely crucial right now.

✔️ How you can help:
We have put out a PSA about the importance of including medical interpreters on COVID-19 response teams. Please read it and share widely!

Looking ahead

Despite the world being in a state of emergency right now, we cannot lose sight of how important our job training program is. We know that once the virus is under control, for many people there will be no return to normal. Mass layoffs, permanent business closures, and disruption of entire sectors will have profound economic consequences. Many bilingual women who were economically secure before the pandemic may soon be in a desperate financial situation and in need of a new career.

We are doing everything in our power to stay on track toward launching the Class of 2020 on schedule this fall. We’ve changed our recruitment strategy to be entirely digital, and have started preparations for the possibility of running the program remotely if necessary.

✔️ How you can help:
If someone you know is a bilingual woman ready to start a career as a medical interpreter, please send her our way! We are accepting applications now through April 30th.

I am deeply grateful to you, always, and especially in these trying times. Thank you for being our partners in creating livelihoods through language and ensuring that all of us—no matter what language we speak—have access to health care and vital information.

Wishing you health,

Maria Vertkin

Founder, Executive Director